Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

As of 2 pm, I am officially off work and ready to celebrate Thanksgiving with family. For a work event, we had to come up with one picture for a slideshow of what we are thankful for. Clearly, this is what I put together:

I am thankful for every thing about that face and about that baby. As we look toward the holiday, I think people tend to get wrapped up in cooking, hosting, gifting, shopping, stressing, first world problems, etc. and forget about all the blessings in their life. For me, my friends and family are healthy. Nothing else matters. Seriously.

The dry cleaners ruined one of my favorite work dresses this week. (#Tuesday) I told the lady that if that's the worst thing to happen to me, I'm pretty dang lucky. There are many people going through rough times right now. I can't help but think about how truly blessed we are.

And it has everything to do with this little girl.

(I promise she looked super cute (and her cream leggings are glitter!) before she got all dirty. But dirty is so much more fun!)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Registry Essentials

This is the mother of all blog posts. T.G.I.JuryDuty so I have the time to write it.

This post is a long time coming. I promised to pull it together for friends who have now since had their babies. #whoops. I will say, a year down the road, I can tell you everything we got great use out of. Everything we bought 3-4 times before we found one that worked. Everything that is unnecessary. The lies we were told ("you will need 5 crib sheets"). And everything that is completely personal preference, like your stroller.

It seems like a lot of items, but some are only $3-4, and it encompasses an entire year. You don't want to register for just newborn items, and then feel like you have nothing month 3. If doing it all over again, I'd buy all of these.

First, let's start with "the minimalist." If I had to narrow it down to just a few items, or had a small apartment, this is what I would purchase.

Registry Essentials: The Minimalist

1. Carseat. You really can't get out of having a carseat. An infant seat is really nice for carrying the baby around, eating at restaurants, etc. We had the Britax B Safe and loved it, and Olivia fit into it until 13 months. We put the Britax Boulevard in Dan's car, since they can sit in that starting at 5 pounds - so we never had a second base. Think through what might work well with your stroller. (Some strollers wont fold with certain infant carseat attachments).
2. Rock and play. This can be your bassinet, your bouncy seat, and your swing. It rocks back and forth and folds flat, so it is easy to throw in the car when going to dinner at a friend's house. Or the baby can sleep in it when you bring your two month old to a New Years Eve party.
3. Summer Infant Swaddle Me aka baby straight jacket. Olivia slept in these until she was 3 months old. They were the only sleep sack / swaddles that she could not get out of, and she loved. We tried quite a few and these were the winners.
4. Foam bathtub. I didn't want to store a bulky bath tub, so we just put a couple inches of water in the real bath, and bathed her on this foam pad until she could sit up by herself. Then, at $6, we tossed it and will purchase another one for the next baby.
5. Boppy pillow. This was great for people to hold her, for breast feeding, bottle feeding (I think Dan would still hold Olivia with the boppy if I hadn't insisted she was too big for it), as well as laying the baby in, tummy time, etc. I also had the "breast friend pillow" which was okay for breastfeeding only - and got bonus points for the pocket which I used mostly to hold Halloween candy - but the boppy will give you the most mileage.
6. Gerber 'cloth diapers' - these were the best burp cloths. Super absorbent, we could use them for spit up, spilled milk, on-the-go diaper changes, anything. We used them always and everywhere. 
7. Mirror to see your baby in the carseat. I read about a baby who turned blue, the mom saw, pulled over, and people came to her help to save the baby. You need that mirror. And we purchased 5. Yep 5 mirrors. Buy this one, it's the only one that works. (Note: it might only work if you have a headrest on the back seat). 
8. Lawn drying rack. We still use this for paci's, sippy cups, and wine glasses. It's the best for drying bottle parts, pump parts, anything you don't want sitting in a pool of yuck. Since we had Olivia they came out with a white one that I love.

Next up, the nursery.

Registry Essentials: The Nursery

1. Cool mist humidifier. We love the crane. It's not nearly as ugly as those old ones, or the frog ones. This blends in with the decor of the room. And it's used every time she has a cold. Since she is in daycare and kisses those snotty boys, it's daily.
2. OXO Wipes Dispenser. I thought those were a 'nice to have' and not really necessary since each wipes bag is its own container. This is the best thing to happen to any blow out. I wouldn't have a baby without one. It keeps you from ripping the whole package of wipes out, and allows you to do everything one handed - which is necessary when your baby is about to smear poop on the wall.
3. Noise machine. We didn't want a baby one, but a full-fledged noise maker. It is pretty small and light weight, so it travels with us. And it really drowns out noises. If we take it with us, Olivia can sleep in any room at anyone's house.
4. Diaper bags. I get these at the dollar store, but the link is to amazon. Just cheap, scented diaper bags. Since I managed to F up every single diaper genie when I babysat, we just throw yucky diapers in here to hold the stink and they go out with the normal trash.
5. I would recommend 2-3 crib sheets, and 1-2 changing pad covers, if you choose to purchase a changing pad.
6. Boppy changing pad liners. First of all, these are great for the changing pad, you can change the liner often, but only have to wash the cover every now and then. These are also great when changing on the floor, or anywhere you plan to change your little one. We used these at friends houses, and always had a few in the diaper bag. We tried multiple kinds and the Boppy brand is the best. Only get those.
7. Baby monitor. Some of you have small houses or apartments and will not need a monitor. Some only want sound. Others want video. Other psychos, like us, want a breathing monitor to neurotically monitor our child. I loved this one. Have only good things to say about it.
8. Aden & Anais muslin blankets. These are awesome. They are big and thin to get a tight swaddle. They are breathable so they are a much safer choice when your infant is sleeping. We would drape it over the carseat to keep the germs out and weird strangers from touching Olivia. Used them as a wind blocker in the stroller. Great purchase.

Registry Essentials: On the go

1. Stroller. This is totally personal preference. There are big jogging strollers (my favorite is the Baby Jogger City Elite, but the BOBB is the cult favorite of runner's) - there are small umbrella strollers, small multi-use strollers (I have a huge crush on the Britax B. Agile) - and there's the 'crossover' type, like the one we have, the Baby Jogger City Mini GT. You could seriously purchase 5 strollers for all different types of situations. So you have to choose what works best for you and give and take. I love ours because it is pretty compact, yet we can run with it. And only required small pieces to work with the B Safe car seat.
2. Changing pad with sections for diapers and wipes. We keep one in each car. You don't want to be SOL without the diaper bag somewhere, trust me. Having these in the car saved us many, many times. We clip #5 on the loop, and will throw it underneath our stroller when heading out for awhile.
3. Pack and play. The Gracos are super easy to fold and unfold. The 4Moms Breeze is really cool, but super super heavy. We don't use any of the bells and whistles - just use it as a travel crib. Many people will use it as their bassinet in the room, or a changing station in their house. Some have delusions of using it as a play pen, but Olivia would have never sat still in a play pen.
4. Moby wrap. (Other's like the Ktan, that you don't have to fold, or the Solly wrap). You have to youtube how to origami this around you, but once in, Olivia would nap two hours - whereas she wouldn't sleep anywhere else. I would frequently take 2 hour walks around the neighborhood, mall, or Target to get her to sleep. I loved this wrap, but something you can use with a newborn is a must.
5. Roll of disposable diaper bags. Babies have the worst timing. And we are frequently not near a trashcan. If you have to change her on the sidewalk, and carry that diaper home, you want a scented, sealed bag. Or if you are at a friends house, be kind, rewind seal that diap. 
6. Infant Carrier. This is the Ergo 360, which I would definitely get if I weren't handed down a Baby Bjorn. The Bjorn is how Olivia toured her 7 breweries before her first bday, went on bar crawls, and traveled through the airport. The Ergo is supposed to be better for your back, but previously only allowed the baby to face you. The 360 let's them face out as well. I think this is also a must!

Registry Essentials: Feeding Solids

1. Bumbo and the play tray. The bumbo was helpful for allowing Olivia to sit up before she could, learn head control, and take pictures of her. We also fed her in the bumbo for the first few months she ate solids. We loved having the play tray to keep her locked in place, and setting some pieces of food or toys for her.
2. Little Green Pouch. You can make your own pouches of home made baby food and store them in here, dishwash, and store more. You can take them into daycare, or on the go, and don't need a bowl and a spoon. We are using them a lot now with smoothies or apple sauce - thing's she can't feed herself with a spoon, but can feed herself with this packet. We tried the boon spoon, but found they only work with almost liquid. The slightest chunk would clog the spoon. It was a great idea that just didn't work for us.
3. Avent transition sippy. We are still on the search for the best sippy cup, so no advice there. But this was the best one to transition from bottle to sippy. We tried a bunch, and she took to this sippy right away.
4. Beaba spoons.  They are soft silicone, but the best part is there is no seam around the edge. When you scrape baby's face to get all the food off, the seam can scratch or be rough on their sweet face. We loved these, and got away with only having a four pack.
5. Pouch Toppers. These go on top of pouches to make them softer and easier for baby to eat. When we first put one on, Olivia sucked down a pouch in a matter of seconds. She loves these.
6. Beaba cutlery. The best toddler spoons and forks when feeding themselves. The plastic forks aren't sharp enough to hurt her, but they are solid enough to stab food.
7. Snack trap. These are wonderful to give to Olivia to carry around her snack without spilling it. She learned how to use it really quickly, and I can now give her a snack without our dog eating the entire thing in seconds. It also buys me more time in Target. Win.
8. Washcloths. These are great for washing up messy hands and faces, as well as the bath. Keep them everywhere.
9. Baby Bjorn bib. The best bib. Hands down. The pocket catches all of her food. And after she's finished eating, she checks her pocket and eats all the food she dropped. We have much cleaner floors after these. Don't be fooled by other pocket bibs, these are the only ones that work. And the best part is that you only need one or two, because you wash them quick in the sink and they are ready for use again. Unlike cloth bibs that have to be laundered.

Not pictured: Highchair: I think this is personal preference. We have the ikea blames and LOVE it. It has been perfect. Dan can pressure wash it in the driveway - which it needs almost daily. We have a messy baby. We have tried a couple others that we have not liked, but don't feel that we're experts. Good luck!

Registry Essentials: Baby Care

1. Ear thermometer. Accuracy was important to me, and we love this one and the reviews. Olivia has had enough fevers, that she has certainly justified the price.
2. Baby shampoo, body lotion, and an everyday diaper cream. We love Burt's bees.
3. Boogie wipes. You guys, I'd put this as the number one thing you need for a one year old. Grape scented are Olivia's favorite, but if you can't stand that, there are unscented and fresh scent. These seriously ninja the stickies off - I had no idea they would be so much better than all other wipes. They are soft. These smell like grape. If you try to wipe Olivia's face or nose with anything she freaks and resists. If you have these, she will sit there and let you get her all clean. They are magic wipes. 
4. Triple paste. This stuff is expensive but it clears up a diaper rash immediately. A year later, we have almost used the full container, so you only have to buy it once.
5. Infant Acetaminophen. When you need it, you wont have time to go out and get some. I like the Target brand because it does not have dye or HFCS, but couldn't find the link. Just have some on hand.
6. Scalp scrubber. Cradle Cap is pretty common, and pretty gross. This got rid of it instantly and it never came back. Buy it. Use it. You don't want cradle crap (not a typo).
7. Nail clippers. These work great for us, but they don't have the best reviews. Maybe there are better ones? 
8. Butt thermometer. Before 3-6 months, you have to take their temp rectally, the ear thermometers aren't accurate. Sorry. It's a must.

Registry Essentials: The Toys

We are not big on toys in our house. I don't want them all over, and Olivia doesn't like many toys anyway. She'd rather play with the clump of dog hair she found on the floor. But, in the entire first year, I'd purchase these toys, and let grandma gift the rest.
1. A playmat. Anything that you can hang little toys or a mirror from. It entertains baby when you need to put them on the floor, or during tummy time. They learn coordination by swatting at the hanging things.
2. Take along tunes. Olivia loves this thing. It is music and bright lights. Babies love it from birth, and it's classical music, so it's not those annoying songs that come from most baby toys. You're welcome, mama.
3. Jacques. We joke that Jacques was Olivia's first boyfriend. He was her favorite for the first 6 months of her life. There's crackly noises, a squeaker, mirror, colors, shapes and tags. All in one. He is like baby crack. I'm sure if they wanted to sell crack to babies, they'd have Jacques deal it.
4. This walker. Olivia loved playing with it when we would push the buttons for her (and she watched the lights), when she was learning to walk, and still loves it today. When her friends come over it's the first toy they all go to.
5. Tummy time mirror. Tummy time is hard on some babies, and Olivia always got bored. This allowed her to look at herself (cutest baby ever. her opinion. not biased.) and give her a little more time on her stomach.
6. This table. When Olivia started cruising at 7 months, she refused to sit down. This table allowed her to stand and play at the same time. And gave us a much needed break from entertaining her. She still loves this!

Not included:

Diapers and wipes weren't included. Some people choose the cloth route, others disposable. Brands depend on how yummy and chunky your baby's thighs are, as well as personal preference. 

Baby clothes weren't included either. Many of those purchases depend on the season. I will say,
  • Zippers are so much better than snaps. Zippers for life. 
  • Get a few gowns because those are super easy to change in the middle of the night. 
  • Despite what people say, have at least a couple newborn sized outfits. Olivia was an 8 pound chunk and was still too small for 0-3 month clothes. We had a last minute Target run the day she came home from the hospital.
  • Hanna Andersson socks were the only ones that stayed on. We got away with just two pairs because we never lost any.
Pacis and Bottles. Generally, your baby will have a preference. And you will usually get a few for free from registering, or at the hospital. Some bottles come with a breast pump. Don't stock up until you know what your baby wants. As cute as those little Soothies are, Olivia only liked Nuk pacis.

Swing. I think for most babies, the rock and play would work. Olivia didn't nap for her first four months unless in the stroller, moby wrap, or her swing. She needed motion. Not all babies are like that, so I would wait to purchase. But if your baby needs motion, the 4Moms MamaRoo is the new favorite out on the market. We had a hand-me-down Snugabunny swing that worked like a charm!

*Note: I'm not affiliated with any companies, or receiving anything. Just my favorite products after a year with Olivia. But, Boogie Wipes makers, feel free to send me a lifetime supply. We will use them. This year.